Europe, Security

A Summer Night, London, 2017

What might take place on a random summer Saturday night in a European capital city? It might be full of armed police rushing to a pub, barking at patrons to lie down immediately, because there’s a possibility of a bomb that might go off. There will be texting to colleagues who work in an area, to ask if they are okay. Friends will call each other advising them to avoid certain “no-go” areas. There will be a constant refreshing of one’s Twitter feed or the feeling of being glued to a news channel if you’re at home. It is BBC writing there’s a “Van incident at a bridge”, a euphemism, of course. But everyone will know what it means, what just happened, and who might be responsible. No one talks about it in civilised circles anymore, and certainly not on the BBC. It is watching a high trust society behave like a war zone. It is police tweeting and asking public to “run, hide and tell”. It is police making hundreds of late night revellers walk in a straight line with hands up palms open, in a scene that is more familiar in Kashmir or Xinjiang. The same country, which saw off the Spanish Armada, Napoleon and Hitler. It is the feeling of abject, ignominious surrender.

I was born in India. I have seen Islamist terrorism far more than any average Westerner. Let me tell you something, which your media will avoid mentioning. The I word. There’s a difference between terrorism and insurgency. Forget all the predictable responses. Forget suited apologists on TV blaming these outrages on colonialism, poverty, racism, rise of Islamophobia, Katie Hopkins, Alt Right, anything under the Sun, except the obvious. Forget Hijab wearing head bobbing Feminists blaming it on the Israel and Palestine problem. Forget scripted responses, of political leaders who talk about the goodness of human nature or the evil of “international terrorism”, or ready-made laminated placards with I Heart *current city under attack*, forget the FB profile flags, hipsters “sending love and good vibes”, tea lights, candle marches, empty platitudes.

Understand the character of an insurgency. An insurgency is a movement. Insurgency need not be coordinated or centrally planned. One of the most well-researched insurgency groups, the Naxalite movement, consisting of groups of Maoist radicals was at war with the Indian government for over a decade at its peak. It was hardly centralised or even coordinated. Most of the insurgents were localised with different operational ability, doctrine, and pace. Small groups of them, usually in ultra-left universities, poisoned by a common ideology, planned to overthrow a system which it deemed unworthy.

Budapest, Prague or Bratislava is not facing what London, Paris, Brussels and St Petersburg is facing. Or for that matter, Kashmir, Xinjiang or Manila. Lone Wolf terrorism is a myth. There are sleeper groups in every big Western city. The immediate hard-Right or hard-Left reaction would be to blame either immigration or histories of colonisation for terrorism. But tell me, how many Indians and Chinese and Koreans do you find bombing random cities across the world? How many Russians, Georgians and Ukrainians are mowing down 8 year olds? There’s conflict in every one of these places, there’s been a history of poverty and colonialism and authoritarianism in each of these societies. Those factors are mute, with regards to this specific set of circumstances concerning Islamism. Colonialism doesn’t cause Islamist terrorism, otherwise Manila wouldn’t be under siege by ISIS.

After the dust settles, there will be a further cry for interventions in Middle East from the usual voices. 37th time the charm. The last time we ravaged the North African coastline standing between an ever-burning Middle East, and an impoverished continent and that hasn’t worked out well, to put it kindly. The other side will claim that the War on Terror has been a failure from the start. But we never had a War on Terror, we had war on tyrants. Tyrants who, by sheer force were battling terrorists for much longer than us.

Most of the terrorists in the West are second generation Westerners often from completely cocooned communities who are self-radicalised, and who have travelled and pledged allegiance to a foreign entity, foreign state and ideology. They did this because they could never identify with their nation of their birth. Because a healthy civic nationalism in Western countries is shunned by the ruling (borderless) elite. Humans need the identity of a tribe. A flag to wave. When they are refused one, they don’t suddenly turn non-tribal. They just choose another identity. Millions once chose the Red flag and pledged allegiance, millions now choose a Black flag. And Britain is now broken in either flying Union Jacks or the Flag of Europa.

The future of Europe is not bright. Thomas Hegghammer in his paper in 2016, pointed out four factors that has led to Europe being a battleground. There’s one single specific second generation migrant community who are expected to economically underperform, and therefore radicalise further. That will be aided by the growth in the number of available jihadi entrepreneurs, or in simpler terms, recruiters for Islamists, and Imams in ghettos and mosques funded by our Gulf partners in Terrorism who we just sold millions of dollars worth of arms to continue funding civil wars and destabilise Middle East even further. That will lead to persistent conflict in the Muslim world, and aided by our lack of penetration online.

You of course won’t see any mention of these in the media, because that would mean accepting hard politically incorrect facts. That would mean accepting that the “winning hearts and minds” strategy has failed. That would mean, no we are not united in the West and yes, a fellow country-man might be plotting to bomb the local nightclub your daughter visits on a Friday night. Hashtags have failed. Candle light vigils have failed. Accepting that this is an insurgency would mean accepting that the only option is to have classic counter insurgency strategy, with eyes and ears within the community, deep penetration and surveillance. In short, the debate between liberty and security will need to be decided in favour of security—at least temporarily. That would mean less taxpayer money being spent on dropping KAB500s on White Toyotas in Syria, and less British troops stationed in Lithuania, and more spent on armed beat cops patrolling our neighbourhoods. It would mean more cash spent on community penetration not seen since The Troubles, more Royal Navy patrolling and disrupting people smugglers and the NGOs that collude with people smugglers.

As someone, who originates from a country, at war with Islamist terrorism since the mid ’80s, let me tell you something which I have seen and which might come to the West soon. The primary duty of a state is to protect its citizens. Nothing else. Not policing alleged hate speech, not giving moral support to drug addicts, not investigating idiotic microaggressions. But to provide security to those who pay taxes. If and when a state fails to do that, the citizens take up arms themselves. And you can take it from me, you don’t want to see that in your country.

Sumantra Maitra

Sumantra Maitra

Sumantra Maitra is Doctoral Researcher on Great power politics and Neo-Realism, with a special focus on Russia at the University of Nottingham, UK. He writes for War on the Rocks, The National Interest, and is a regular analyst for The Centre for Land Warfare Studies, India. He holds a Masters of Journalism and Mass Communication, and a Masters of International Studies, both with distinctions.
Sumantra Maitra

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Sumantra Maitra is Doctoral Researcher on Great power politics and Neo-Realism, with a special focus on Russia at the University of Nottingham, UK. He writes for War on the Rocks, The National Interest, and is a regular analyst for The Centre for Land Warfare Studies, India. He holds a Masters of Journalism and Mass Communication, and a Masters of International Studies, both with distinctions.

22 Comments

  1. Ted Smith says

    Would more armed police prevent vehicle attacks on pedestrians? What more “community penetration” should the authorities be doing? Internment without trial, like (briefly and disastrously) in N.Ireland? And what have these got to do with whether we put troops into NATO forces in Lithuania?

    Some good analysis but hastily written prescriptions….

  2. Fielzinho Wild says

    Great text: Clever and corageous !

  3. r321 says

    Worth thinking about having separate countries for people with different approaches to life and different values?

    Mixed populations seems to bring problems.

    • I’d prefer not to even reply to this comment, but I must dissent from the notion that people cannot live together. Who is to decide which people can live where? The Western Enlightenment is the best that humanity has achieved in terms of progress to liberty, equality and knowledge. The truth of that is shown by the number of people from developing nations that risk their lives to come here. Naturally some of these people have difficult and sometimes dangerous ideas, but it is not beyond the realms of possibility that we might eventually overcome their objections and persuade them to reject the worst and most anti-social of those ideas. And we might learn from them too.

      • Peter Sullivan says

        It’s not clear what ‘r321’ means – whether he or she is against any type of pluralistic society.

        Also, it’s surely far easier to persuade those you suggest we might wish to persuade if the number of those coming to the West wasn’t so high. It is not about race, as much of the ‘intelligent’ media like to suggest, but about numbers. Many Europeans are unhappy but are branded right-wing, or even far-right, simply because they do not want such high immigration levels. Most have no objection to the levels of immigration we had in the UK only a few decades ago. It was far easier to integrate lower numbers, while quite rightly respecting newcomers’ values and way of life to a very large extent. Higher overall numbers are also problematic when there is a serious issue of terrorism – because such people can more easily secrete themselves in the larger ethnic communities.

        Also, it’s incorrect to assume that the values and political systems that stem from the Enlightenment entail an acceptance of mass migration. There is still a very important, perhaps vital, role for the real borders, a true sense of national identity and a feeling of cohesion within a society with shared values, while also being open and liberal in attitude. It is, in fact, how things were for a very long time, prior to the relatively recent open borders dogma and its intolerance of dissent.

        I also want to add that this article is excellent.

      • Brian says

        Who is to decide? The citizens, naturally. The West has no need of these recent imports… a simple cost/benefit analysis is all that’s needed.

  4. M Ali Khan says

    Western governments continue to patronise Jihadist groups for achieving foreign policy objectives in places like Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan etc which they have been doing for decades (if not at least a century! https://twitter.com/cybertosser/status/835207027030802432 ).

    Those expecting ZERO blowback to the radicalisation going out of their control and hitting home, should realise these attacks will continue. This is exactly what Pakistan is facing since 9-11: decades of state patronage of Jihadist/Islamist groups for domestic power grabs and external covert ops led to groups going against the hands that fed it and unleashing violence at home. USA, France, and esp UK are all part of this monstrosity at a much bigger and wider scale.

    Salman Abedi, Manchester bomber, and much of his family were involved in Western-backed “rebel” groups fighting Gaddafi regime in Libya and they constantly traveled back and forth between UK and Libya for years. Only took one of them to turn on the hands that nurtured it and voila, we have 20+ innocents dead in Manchester. Don’t be surprised if the names of the London attackers are revealed they would be “previously known to authorities” just like Abedi and co were or they were “inspired” by groups which we consider ‘pro regime change’ in Middle East.

    Never mind the fact that Abedi etc were REPEATEDLY reported by other members of his own family and mosque members for radicalised behaviour and nothing was done! https://twitter.com/markcurtis30/status/868025629979160578

    or $1billion worth of weapons sent by US Army in Iraq became “lost” and somehow ended up in ISIS hands… yeah right! This isnt ‘incompetence’…. its something far more sinister than that.

    Islamophobia is a term invented by these elites to keep the idiots of the Left and idiots of the Right fighting amongst themselves over semantics and chase each others tails. No one of course will talk about the real shit behind the scenes.

    Sure, you can ALWAYS blame Islam if you like. You have right to have an opinion no matter how ridiculous and simplistic. But if you want to SOLVE something as heavily grey and complex as this Jihadist menace, you have to say and propose something smarter than this.

    • Gudrun says

      So… Pakistan is also funding ISIS?

      Sure, you’re right, our governments largely consist of war criminals that should be brought to justice. Something is rotten in the West.

      But the same rot is aiming to destroy Western Civilisation by importing people like you and Salman Abedi into our countries, so they can rape and kill our children.

      And why do they go and get people like you and Salman Abedi? Because they know that Islam produces the most rotten people in the world. The most likely to kill and rape – preferably children.

      It is not that one is true – the unjust interventions in the middle East – and the other – Islam is just an ideology of shite – is not. Both are true.

      BTW, islamophobia was invented by Iranian ayatollah Khomeini, to criticize the UN Human rights commission for criticising Khomeini’s law that allows grown men to “marry’ nine year olds. So… You’re in favour of raping nine year olds?

  5. D. Aldo says

    My reading eye raised suspicion at ‘I was born in India’..

    Hinduist Aryan with axe to grind (pardon the pun) – what do suggest: burning down of Mosques, all Muslims to wear Crescent moon badges, sent to special camps.. in short, a Pogrom?

    Or the more simple premise – nuke Pakistan?

    Clean and efficient ideas which would fuel any EDL /Britain First rally – Chapeau!

    • Hinduist Aryan with axe to grind (pardon the pun) – what do suggest: burning down of Mosques, all Muslims to wear Crescent moon badges, sent to special camps.. in short, a Pogrom?

      Because recognising Islam is a problem is just the same as the Holocaust.

      Retard.

    • Stephen Johnson says

      He doesn’t really say what his solution is — that’s the kind of article it is. Sort of terroristic in its own right, designed to inspire fear and over the top responses.

      • Howard says

        Actually, he kind of does, when he identifies the source of the problem — or at least one of the sources. “Because a healthy civic nationalism in Western countries is shunned by the ruling (borderless) elite. Humans need the identity of a tribe.”

        This is a war of ideas, and such a war cannot be won by technology alone. There has to be some world view to counter that offered by the Islamists. It does not have to be highly detailed in its prescriptions, and it does not have to require lock-step uniformity, but it has to have more content to it than the current nebulous commitment to something that somehow involves voting — we don’t care much about how or what they bring in, as long as celebrities don’t say it’s uncool — and some form of more-or-less free markets. In other words, we have to concentrate more on understanding a good life as an end and less on the political and economic means that might assist in achieving that end. Such a world view has to develop organically, and it will mostly consist of unspoken beliefs — in fact, beliefs that would be hard to fully express in words, but that are transmitted through a shared life experience. Some of that still remains, but it is in tatters and despised by our “leaders”. It is the sort of thing that comes from farmers, not from rock stars.

      • Mark says

        Now that, Stephen, is an excellent response. Articulated my blurry thoughts. Thank you. I think I’ll stop reading the rest of the comments now. Too mich nonsense.

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  7. In less than 12 hours, pretty much all the contensions put forward in this article are shown to be wrong.

  8. Paul McDonald says

    Very wise words. But I think you maybe underestimate the strength of the British people from all faiths and cultures. There will never be another revolution here

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  10. Raynas says

    I’d like more examples on the claim: ‘… a healthy civic nationalism in Western countries is shunned by the ruling (borderless) elite.’
    I don’t believe the ‘elites’ are the only ones to blame for some second-generation immigrants’ not being able to identify with the country of their birth.
    You could have thousands of British muslims reaffirming their British identity tomorrow without satisfying the ‘true’ Brits sense of Britishness.

    Where are you going to put the Muslims who warned the state about the attacker in this equation?

    On the other hand, Islam is a faith that is resistant to certain assimilation efforts and fosters solidarity with other Muslims throughout the world. Radical Islamists take this effect and bend it to fit their universal jihadist agenda.

    As with everything human related, there isn’t one deciding factor. The nativist stream of the masses that deny civic nationalism to second-generation immigrants and the transnational rhetoric of Islamism both contribute to this situation.

    It doesn’t help to put on ideology glasses that magnify a factor while ignoring the other.

  11. AS says

    Raynas: “On the other hand, Islam is a faith that is resistant to certain assimilation efforts and fosters solidarity with other Muslims throughout the world.”

    Is not the same true for Christianity? Especially Catholicism?

    As for the problems regarding the integration of immigrants in the UK, I recommend reading “The British Dream” by David Goodhart.

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